We’re reimagining leadership: it’s about care, community, and practice.

Get unstuck in your social change work and gain confidence, capacity, and connection, with a cohort of like-minded (and like-hearted) people in this transformational experience.

As Angela Davis has taught us, "You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time".  

We all have a role to play in transforming our corner of the world, and our redesigned Leadership for Social Change course supports you and your peers in imagining what is possible in our livelihoods and communities. 

This course will support you to:

  • Reimagine what your roles are in the social change landscape so you can confidently lead from your values and strengths.
  • Deepen your understanding of the dominant systems we live in so that you can resist and rebuild with a more sustainable, collective approach.
  • Bring an embodied approach to social change work so you can better practice your agency and avoid burn out.


Leadership for Social Change offers anti-oppressive professional and personal development to grow your care-based leadership skills, including: 

Collaboration - Problem Solving - Communication - Conflict Engagement - Creativity and Innovation - Critical Thinking - Adaptability

We take a trauma-informed, care-filled approach to facilitation, and apply an anti-capitalist, anti-racist, queer and feminist lens to every aspect of the course.

The course is facilitated by Groundswell team members Daniela Guerrero-Rodriguez, Paola Qualizza, and Samita Manhas, who bring years of group facilitation, social change leadership, personal experience, and research into this welcoming learning experience.

The Groundswell team engages in ongoing education and training, here’s some of the courses and workshops we’ve participated in:

The Art of Hosting
The Art of Skillful Facilitation Training 
Trauma-Informed Facilitation Training
Conflict Evolution 
Disability Politics 101 
Disability Awareness 
Conflict & Power
Decolonizing Practices


Who this course is for

Leadership for Social Change is open to folks that identify as women, trans, non-binary, or gender non-conforming, and who prefer to learn in spaces that centre these intersectional identities and experiences. 

This course brings together folks from many different backgrounds, lived experiences, and stages of life and career.

 You might be:

  • working in the non-profit or social sector 
  • wanting to bring an anti-oppressive leadership  approach to your job or community work
  • a community organizer or activist 
  • a social entrepreneur (or aspiring social entrepreneur)
  • a recent graduate
  • in your mid or late career wanting to shift your work towards social change
  • an established leader who wants to create a more inclusive and values-aligned work culture for your team or organization.


Each cohort is made up of 12 - 16 participants to cultivate a supportive small group experience.

Many of our alumni come from racialized, gender-diverse, and LGBTQIA2S+ communities, ranging in age from 22 to 60 (all adults are welcome!). 

Everything that you've lived has value.

When we can share similar experiences in how we move in the world and how we are affected by the systems around us, we can start to imagine and share ways of applying our values, strengths, and lived experiences to challenge the status quo. 

We are excited to co-create a shared learning space with you in a way that empowers us to collectively create worlds that work for us!


Course Schedule

This is an 8-week course, running from May 7 - June 27.

We meet twice in the first week, and once a week after that.

Class dates are:

May 7: Tuesday (First class) 
May 9 - June 27: Thursdays (Every week) 

Class time is:

6:30 - 9:30pm PT

Optional "office hours" will be available weekly when you can drop in and receive additional support with the course content. We'll figure out the schedule together in the first week. 

We gathering together online using Zoom, and share course content on Thinkific, an online learning platform. You'll get access to the online platform a week before the course starts and you'll have access to the course content for one year.

How to apply

The application process is very casual: we want to get to know you a bit before the course starts and answer any questions you have. 

You can apply until April 29, 2024. We'll starting getting in touch with applicants to schedule a (casual!) phone call starting on April 22.

Choose your tuition

Groundswell offers subsidized tuition for participants who don’t have access to other financial support, as well as instalment payments to comfortably spread out the fee. Participants who have access to professional development funds, employer reimbursement, or bursaries from funding partners are encouraged to pay at full tuition.

Individual Price: $900

Access to Professional Development Funds: $1200 

Pay in Instalments: $300 per month

Tuition is in Canadian dollars.

Ready to Apply?

Applications are now open until April 26, 2024. We're excited to hear from you!

Here's what our alumni are saying

Realign With Why You Do What You Do

Holly

“Groundswell is an opportunity to step out of the hustle of work and realign yourself to the heart of why you do what you do. It gives you a safe space to explore the alternatives, wonder and imagine yourself stepping towards a path that feels more congruent with your being.”

Radically Changed How I Work

Letitia

“I appreciate the call to radically change how I work -- not because I need to improve my "work-life balance" but because our inequitable systems are harmful, are intolerable, and cannot continue to be supported through our banal day-to-day occupations. Take this course."

The Course You Didn't Know You Needed

Julie

“This is the type of course you didn't know you needed until you've done it. I have already spoken about this program to so many people, and feel that many (like-minded) women in my life also yearn to widen their perspective on work and how we value it.”

Living True To Your Values

Vanja

“Groundswell does a fantastic job of creating an environment that prompted me to dig deep into my self and my leadership. I love that the Groundswell team practices what they preach. Living true to your values doesn't have to be a detriment in life or work, and Groundswell is proof of that.”

Supportive and Insightful

Sally

“An incredible experience! Supportive, insightful, highly recommended method to delve deep into personal development and mapping future directions. I’m overwhelmed by just how well the course proceeded via Zoom.”

An Asset to the World

Raveena

"Groundswell makes you look at yourself as an asset to the world. This is empowering. Be prepared to find that you are closer to being an entrepreneur than you think.”

More Possibilities Than I Had Imagined

Joey

“I grew up with a lot of the standard expectations - you go to school, get a job and that’s what you now do. Groundswell broke down those expectations of what life is and what it could be. There are more possibilities than I had imagined.”

Impressed with the Online Format

Laura

“The Groundswell experience was incredible and I feel way more confident about my journey than before the course. I'm particularly impressed with the online format, the facilitators did an incredible job at keeping the group focused, relaxed and socially connected.”

Beginning the Journey Towards Purpose

Amanda

“Groundswell provides an inclusive, intensive and supportive container for the journey towards purpose with proven structures to guide what is often a difficult and confusing process.”

Course Content

You'll be guided through an intentional learning journey of interactive workshops that include exercises, personal reflections, and small group discussions, each class building upon the previous ones. 

This learning journey includes:

...our bodies,

If change doesn’t happen in our whole selves, it remains as thoughts and ideas, so we need to build our capacity for expanding our comfort zones, noticing the sticky, uncomfortable, and even joyful moments that change creates.

We do this through:

  • Guided mindfulness exercises including groundings, visualizations, and nervous system regulation techniques led by Mercedes Baines, our organizational therapist.
  • Learning about how our nervous system works so we can respond with more understanding and self-compassion when we experience discomfort.
  • Observing the land and nature - which we are a part of! - and how natural ecosystems, plants, and animals adapt to change and work together.

a drawing of three clustered yellow circles with dots radiating out from them ...our minds,

The more we understand about the dominant systems we live in, including capitalist, colonialism, and supremacy, the more we can change them.

We will:

  • Think critically about the status quo and apply more ways of knowing, so we can challenge oppressive power and recognize the power we have.
  • Unpack ways we have internalized the dominant culture so we can unlearn unhelpful patterns and change them.
  • Revive our imagination and future thinking, so we can build worlds and ways that work for all of us.

a drawing of blue and yellow trees

...our communities,

We aren't meant to do this work alone - and that wouldn't work anyway!

This is why we:

  • Define leadership as caring for ourselves, each other, and the land.
  • Cultivate relationships as the path to social change.
  • Examine the roles we might take on in social change, depending on our own identities, privileges, strengths, values, and desires, and how these interplay with the communities we are a part of.


...and, practice.

We cannot make change unless we practice change. We know that growth is not a straight line but a spiral of evolution that takes learning and unlearning, action, mistakes, expansion, rest, curiosity, and accountability to each other and ourselves. So we must practice to build our skills, build our capacities, and to build new pathways, in our hearts and minds and also in our lives.

Apply now!

Join the next cohort

Course Outline

You can also see the course outline as a PDF and download it here.


WEEK 1 - Tuesday May 7

  Leadership from the Inside-Out

Ground into the work of leadership from the inside-out based on our shared principles and non-linear approaches to learning, while getting to know your peers and establish what it means to co-create a space of care in our time together.

WEEK 1 - Thursday May 9

  Understanding our Energy + Honouring our Natural Cycles

Tap into the wisdom your body holds and reflect on your relationship with yourself, others, and your environment. In a world where we are expected to behave like machines, we will discuss what resisting these norms looks and feels like when we take our cues from nature and allow our bodies to ebb and flow with the seasons.

WEEK 2 - Thursday May 16

  Seasons of Learning + Innate Strengths

Learning is cyclical not linear. Together we will uncover alternative ways of understanding and practicing how we learn and grow. Providing us with a more nuanced perception of ourselves. We’ll take a strengths-based approach to recognizing the innate strengths you are equipped with and share tools for honing in on which ones work for you. 

WEEK 3 - Thursday May 23

  Unpacking our Relationship with Work

What does it truly mean to do the work of social change? Unlearn the dominant narratives about work that perpetuate oppression and inequity and relearn how to lead from your values. 

WEEK 4 - Thursday May 30

  Alternative Ways of Working + Unpacking our Values

We are richer than we know when we honour the ways we create and exchange value beyond capitalism. Cultivate alternative ways of working rooted in reciprocity. We’ll also take a look at our values in the context of the systems we live in and reflect on how they can support us when aligned with the change we want to be a part of. 

WEEK 5 - Thursday June 6

  Reimagining How We Show Up

We are not alone in this work. Hear from folks in the Groundswell ecosystem who are radically reimagining leadership, work, and the ways of creating lasting change in their communities. 

WEEK 6 - Thursday June 13

  Synthesizing Your Strengths

Debrief your personal 360 feedback and learn a practical strengths-based framework to communicate where you shine in your work and advocate for the conditions you need to thrive. 

  Mapping Our Roles in the Collective

Explore how to position yourself in the social change ecosystem through the roles that feel most aligned with your values, strengths, power, energy, and the accountabilities you hold.

WEEK 7 - Thursday June 20

  Personal Leadership Narratives

Share your leadership narrative with the group in your choice of medium, and witness others share how their past, present, values, passions and strengths help to inform their social change work.

WEEK 8 - Thursday June 27

  Co-Creating Ways Forward

What could alternative futures if we continue ongoing unlearning and learning and build relationships and communities that are rooted in solidarity and collective care? We’ll dream big and figure out our next steps. 

Join the May 2024 cohort!

Step into a care-filled learning journey that will deepen your social change work.

Not ready to apply yet? Share your email and we'll reach out with more information.

Join our next cohort launching May 7, 2024!

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FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who is the course for?

    This cohort is specifically for folks that identify as women, trans women, and non-binary or gender non conforming folks who prefer to learn in spaces that centre intersectional identities and experiences. Leadership for Social Change brings together folks from many different backgrounds, lived experiences, and stages of life and career. This includes those working in the non-profit and social sector, community organizers and activists, social entrepreneurs, recent graduates, and those in mid or late career wanting to shift their work towards social change. Established leaders who want to create more inclusive and values-aligned cultures for their teams and organizations are also welcome. Many of our alumni are from racialized, gender-diverse, and LGBTQIA2S+ communities, ranging in age from 22 to 60!

  • What happens in a typical session?

    There are two type of sessions, core sessions as a group and drop in office hours. Core sessions as a group are on Thursdays. You'll be supported by Groundswell's team of facilitators and your cohort of peers through an intentional sequence of interactive workshops, guided personal reflection, and small group discussions, each one building upon the previous ones. We’ll incorporate mindfulness and energizer breaks to keep the screen fatigue at bay and support you in feeling present. You can come as you are and we'll often remind you to do what you need to be comfortable, including the option to have video off for some parts of the sessions. Drop in office hours will be held on Tuesdays and are a time to drop in and discuss any questions you may have about the course content, homework and for additional support.

  • How many hours is the course?

    The 8-week course includes 38 instructional hours. The format is facilitated weekly evening sessions from 6:30-9:30pm PT (including short breaks). OPTIONAL drop in office hours will also be offered in addition to these sessions.

  • How much time should I expect to spend on the course outside of class?

    You can expect to spend around 1-3 hours a week outside of class time on course-related activities, including spending time with reflection prompts that we provide, some assignments, resources, and your own self-directed learning and unlearning. There are no grades or marks here!

  • How many people will be in the course?

    We limit each cohort to 16 participants max to cultivate a supportive small group experience. You'll get to know each other while sharing, discussing, and reflecting on what comes up in the course. We'll also create a private chat group so you can support and encourage each other during and after the course.

  • What if I have to miss a session?

    Sessions are not normally recorded, though if you let us know in advance that you'll miss a session, in most cases we can record it for you to watch later. You can also schedule a one-on-one call with a facilitator if you have any questions. Note that a significant part of the course experience is interacting with your peers in small group discussions, which aren't recorded.

  • What do you mean by 'unlearning'?

    Doing the work of social change requires us to be open to change ourselves. This involves not only learning more concepts and skills, but also unlearning dominant cultural beliefs that we have internalized. We'll meet you where you're at in doing this work, and invite you to our community agreements which include honouring your own and each other's lived experience. Then we can start to collectively relearn ways of working and relating that shift the status quo.

  • This course sounds really personal...how much am I expected to share?

    We approach leadership from the inside-out. Our curriculum and sessions are rooted in social emotional learning (more on that in the course!) and acknowledging that we learn more about ourselves in the presence of others. We'll support you in digging deep though you'll have choice in how much of that you share. On the occasions where you don't feel like sharing as much, you'll benefit from witnessing your peers in a shared learning environment. Our community agreements include mutual confidentiality when sharing personal experiences.

  • What is the registration process? Do I have to apply?

    For this course, you will have to fill out an application. You can find the link at the top and bottom of the page. After that we will contact folks for interviews. If you need any support in filling out the application form or you have questions, please reach out to us at [email protected].

  • Are there bursaries available to cover tuition fees?

    Currently, we do not have any bursaries for this course.

  • What kind of organization is Groundswell?

    Groundswell provides alternative education that centers its students' lived experience, challenges harmful systems, and builds collective power to change the status quo. We have a dual structure of registered charity (Groundswell Education Society) and non-profit organization (that delivers this course). This structure allows us to access funding that keeps our programming accessible to folks who are underrepresented in business and leadership, while enabling us be responsive to our students' needs with our program design and delivery. You can learn more about us and our approach at www.groundswellschool.com